Public Info

Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program a Productive Alternative to Jail

As county and local governments across the state explore shared services and other avenues to reduce spending, I would like to highlight a program from the Union County Sheriff’s Office that has been saving taxpayers more than a million dollars a year by offering some non-violent criminal offenders work sentences instead of costly jail time.

The Union County Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program (SLAP) is essentially a supervised public work program for people who have received mandatory sentences in municipal and superior courts. The participants are carefully screened and must meet stringent eligibility requirements in order to work off their sentences and go home at the end of the day rather then face unproductive incarceration.

Since 1993, Sheriff’s Officers have directed SLAP details in all 21 Union County municipalities that have involved roadside cleanup, park maintenance, painting of municipal buildings and other community oriented projects.

In 2010, SLAP participants logged 50,464 supervised labor hours. At $14 per hour, the minimum wage with benefits, the labor hours mean the county received $706,496 worth of work.

They worked 6,308 daily assignments instead of spending those days in the county jail. Since incarceration in the jail costs the county $135 per day, per inmate, SLAP saved the county another $851,580 bringing the total savings to $1,558,076 for the year.

The offender benefits also, because he or she is able to keep their job and remain at home with family instead of experiencing an unproductive period of incarceration. It also serves as a deterrent to future criminal behavior.

The violator pays his or her debt to society while doing a productive job for the county rather then being jailed at the taxpayers’ expense. It is a win/win program that will continue to benefit the people of Union County.

Ralph Froehlich

Union County Sheriff